Longshan Temple from the Qing Dynasty.

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Longshan Temple

Top choice in Western Taiwan

Built in the late 18th century, Longshan Temple remains a showcase of southern temple design. The temple is expansive, covering over 10,000 sq metres within its gated walls, so give yourself a few hours to take in the grandeur and admire the minutiae.

Some highlights include the front mountain gate, with its elegant dǒugǒng (special bracketing system for Chinese architecture) and sweeping eaves. Before the front of the Hall of Five Gates you'll find the most famous carved dragons in Taiwan: note that the head of one runs up the column while its twin runs down.

Also check out the hall's window lattice for two fish that curl around each other in the shape of the yin and yang symbol. Inside the hall you'll find one of the most stunning plafonds in Taiwan, as well as brackets and beams carved into a veritable smorgasbord of traditional symbols: there are clouds, dragons, bats, lions, melons, elephants, phoenixes, fish and more.

The resident deity at Longshan Temple is the bodhisattva Guanyin. You'll find her shrine at the back worship hall.